News

Hannibal to go smoke-free; indoor ban gets 55.8 percent approval

A sign asking voters to reject Proposition 1 is seen along Crescent Drive in Hannibal, Mo.. (H-W Photo/Michael Kipley)
Posted: Apr. 3, 2012 9:47 pm Updated: Apr. 17, 2012 10:15 pm

By MARY POLETTI
Herald-Whig Staff Writer

HANNIBAL, Mo. — Hannibal will go smoke-free later this year after Proposition 1's indoor smoking ban passed in Tuesday's municipal election.

The ballot measure, which proposed banning smoking in all indoor public places and in city-owned vehicles, received 1,653 yes votes (55.8 percent) to 1,309 no votes in Marion and Ralls County combined.

Proposition 1 was the most contentious of four questions on Tuesday's ballot. The indoor smoking ban has been the subject of a heated debate since a deeply divided City Council placed it on the ballot last December.

Emotions have continued to run high in the intervening months, with supporters and opponents sparring vocally over public health versus individual property rights.

However, Sixth Ward Councilman Richard Draper said the margin by which Proposition 1 passed "shows the community is squarely in favor of a measure like this."

"It pleases me that the citizens are taking an interest in their health and being proactive about it," Draper said. "I think it's a good thing."

The City Council now faces the task of enacting a law that would formally outlaw indoor smoking based on the will of the voters.

In proposing the ballot issue, Draper also proposed a draft ordinance. It remains to be seen whether that version of the ordinance will be enacted.

Most city buildings in Hannibal have been smoke-free since 1999. The Admiral Coontz Armory, a Parks and Recreation facility, banned smoking in 2010.

Proposition 1 passed in Marion County with 1,642 yes votes to 1,296 no votes. It failed in Ralls County, which contains a sliver of Hannibal, with 13 no votes and 11 yes votes; however, their votes added to Marion County's were not enough to sink the ballot measure.

Also Tuesday, a ballot question seeking to renew Hannibal's 70-cent monthly recycling free had no trouble passing, receiving 2,367 yes votes to 577 no votes in Marion and Ralls counties combined. The recycling fee is collected on residents' Hannibal Board of Public Works utility bills. It goes to the Northeast Missouri Sheltered Workshop, which has operated the city's recycling program for years.

Voters also approved Propositions 3 and 4, both addressing Hannibal Board of Public Works board meetings, by somewhat narrower margins in Marion and Ralls counties combined.

Proposition 3, which won with 1,881 yes votes and 1,003 no votes, sought to amend the city charter to the BPW to meet in locations other than City Hall. The board met at the utility's offices on Warren Barrett Drive for several months before discovering that it had misinterpreted charter language on that point.

Proposition 4, receiving 1,826 yes votes and 1,054 no votes, also amended the charter, allowing a board member to attend by conference call or videoconference so that the board can have quorum.

— mpoletti@whig.com/221-3385